Former President Donald Trump secured a significant legal victory this week as a federal judge ruled against a group’s attempt to file a class-action lawsuit against him.
The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield, based in New York City, determined that ACN Opportunity LLC, a multi-level marketing firm with which Trump entered into an endorsement agreement in 2006, lacked the legal standing to sue him.
This endorsement agreement, which spanned until 2015, coincided with Trump’s substantial earnings from his successful business reality shows, “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” According to Business Insider, ACN was among Trump’s most dependable income sources.
However, the three plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit argued that, despite Trump’s endorsement, they generated minimal to no earnings, even after participating in training courses for independent business owners. They contended in their lawsuit that they were unaware that the company had paid Trump millions to promote its programs.
In her ruling, Judge Schofield pointed out that it would be impractical to define a class of individuals who suffered harm due to Trump’s support of the company. This difficulty arose from the fact that various factors, including individual research into the company, additional marketing materials, and recommendations from others, could influence a person’s decision to purchase a product or service.
“The majority of the content on the Opportunity Discs [promoting the company]portrayed testimonials from various successful IBOs, highlighting how ACN has enabled them to have, for example, a relaxed work life, expensive cars, and large homes,” the judge’s ruling explained.
“The nature of Trump’s alleged misstatements also raises individual questions of whether any given putative class member believed the statements and therefore relied on them,” Schofield added, going on to point out that “the record evidence shows that some IBOs knew or assumed Trump was a paid spokesperson.”
Furthermore, the judge, who was appointed during the Obama administration, pointed out that Trump’s statements about the company, such as describing it as a “great opportunity” and highlighting ACN’s “proven track record” in “creating millionaires,” might be considered typical advertising endorsements rather than deliberate misrepresentations.
In addition to rejecting their request to establish a class-action lawsuit, Judge Schofield instructed the plaintiffs to submit briefs by early next week explaining why their claims should not be separated from the others and transferred to individual jurisdictions in the respective federal courts located in California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, where they reside.
Meanwhile, Trump expressed his perspective on the decision through his Truth Social platform.
“Today we had a Total and Complete Victory against Far Left Lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, on her ridiculous ACN Class Action Suit, yet another Election Interference Case,” he wrote.
“It was ruled that there can be no Class Action, and Certification was denied!” he noted further.
Attorney Kaplan previously represented E. Jean Carroll in a defamation lawsuit against Trump in May. Carroll had alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. In September, she won a defamation case against him, wherein Trump had denied even knowing Carroll.
The defamation lawsuit, overseen by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, appointed during the Clinton administration, concluded that Trump had defamed Carroll. Trump’s denial in June 2019 of the sexual assault allegations and his accusations that Carroll was fabricating the incident to promote her book were deemed defamatory. In May, a civil jury had ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in relation to the sexual assault claim.
“Kaplan also rejected Trump’s claim that any damages awarded to Carroll, who is seeking $10 million, should be reduced because the earlier verdict covered some of them and she did not deserve to recover twice,” reported Reuters of the ruling.
Kaplan wrote that the “jury found that Mr. Trump knew that his statement that Ms. Carroll lied about him sexually assaulting her for improper and ulterior purposes was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether it was false. Whether Mr. Trump made the 2019 statements with actual malice raises the same issue.”